RIYADH: The Saudi-led Catmosphere foundation celebrated its annual event, Catwalk, on Saturday, with a global call for participation.
Saudi embassies worldwide responded by participating in the initiative for a 7 km walk, featuring a host of engaging activities along the route.
The Catwalk initiative is an annual celebration in honor of the declaration last year by the UN designating Feb. 10 as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard.
Through various social activities, Catmosphere, a non-profit founded by Princess Reema bint Bandar, works to prevent the Arabian leopard from becoming extinct, educates participants about the animal, and connects people with their environment.
“I was elated that the UN recognized the International Day of the Arabian Leopard last year — an initiative by the Kingdom, supported by over 30 member states,” said Princess Reema, who also serves as Saudi ambassador to the US.
“This announcement is significant as it marks the first time the UN has designated an international day of recognition for a mammal, big cat or subspecies.
“And it is the first time that an international day established by the UN was led by Saudi Arabia. I am particularly proud that this day is for conservation.”
The designation emerged from the collaborative efforts of Catmosphere, the Royal Commission for AlUla, the Arabian Leopard Fund, and the Saudi Mission to the UN.
In Riyadh, a Catwalk event was organized with a walk at Bujairi in historic Diriyah, where people from diverse backgrounds, including families and children, participated in various activities to raise awareness about the importance of efforts to protect wild cats facing the threat of extinction.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry also participated, with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji tweeting: “Pleased to participate in the #Catwalk2024 initiative in conjunction with the UN adoption of Feb. 10 as International Day of Arabian Leopard, in assurance of the Kingdom’s efforts the preserve the seven big cats to protect wildlife.”
The seven big cats include jaguars, lions, snow leopards and pumas.
The Saudi Embassy in Egypt organized the Catwalk, with Osama Nugali, Saudi ambassador to Egypt, and several officials from the embassy and the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports participating in a march.
“The Kingdom’s celebration of the International Day of the Arabian Leopard serves its lofty goals aimed at introducing the values of environmental conservation and instilling the principles of protecting the Arabian leopard from extinction and its return to its natural environment,” Nugali told Arab News.
“The Kingdom translated this interest by submitting a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly that was adopted in June 2023,” he added.
“The embassy was honored to organize a march on the occasion in which the embassy employees and members of the Saudi community in Egypt participated enthusiastically, in addition to our Egyptian brothers, of all age groups without exception.”
The embassy also organized various activities for children.
The Saudi Embassy in Ireland participated in the Catwalk, with Deputy Ambassador Abdulsalam Al-Mushaiti and the acting head of the cultural attache office, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Fahd Al-Fuhaid, joining the walk along with their children and staff.
The walk started from the famous Samuel Beckett Bridge in the Irish capital, Al-Mushaiti wrote on X.
The Saudi Embassy in Italy shared pictures of Catwalk 2024 on X with the caption: “Highlights of the first-ever celebration of the #InternationalArabianLeopardDay in Rome @catmospherenow.”
The Saudi Embassy in New Delhi also took part, writing on X: “On this occasion, the embassy organized #Catwalk2024, an initiative launched by @catmospherenow to raise awareness about efforts to preserve the Arabian leopard.”
The Saudi Embassy in Switzerland also joined the event, writing on X: “It’s time for the catwalk! The embassy in Bern participates in #Catwalk2024, walking 7 km to raise awareness about the importance of efforts to protect 7 species of wild cats facing the threat of extinction. We walk to protect the Arabian leopard.”
The RCU marked the occasion with a new “Leap of Hope” campaign, aiming to enhance global awareness and encourage action for the conservation of critically endangered big cat species.
The Catwalk initiative received support from various government entities, including the ministries of interior; municipal, rural affairs and housing; foreign affairs; environment, water and agriculture; education; and sport.